Saturday, May 26, 2012

Thai Wraps | Cheers To Mermaid Cafe

For some reason as of late, Kauai has been a reoccurring thought. The memories of the island beaches and uniquely different coasts seem appealing again. For so long after moving away from Kauai I didn't miss it one bit. I definitely experienced "island fever" wishing for a road trip longer than 45 minutes, or to be able to have some chilly weather so I could wear my cute winter coats.

Of course there was more to it too, I moved back to the mainland to marry my love, to be closer to family, and start going to school again. Kauai was such a beautiful place to live, mysterious and full of interesting history. I loved my friends there and the personal growth I was able to experience.

After Billy and I got married and were living in Arizona, we both missed a particular eatery called Mermaid's Cafe. It's a little hole-in-the-wall located on the east coast in Kapa'a. The food is completely delicious, and although a small little shack with limited seating, you would have to try it if you visited Kauai. The food offered is pacific rim fusion, and the particular dishes we loved were the Thai Satay Wrap and the Thai Satay Plate. The Thai Tea is amazing too. So soon after we were married, I tried recreating the same taste bud experience.

This meal is great because it makes a lot of food. So naturally it's great for company omnivore and herbivore alike. I love the taste of chicken and tofu together, so try them together, or separate however you prefer. Also you got to love how something healthy can taste so darn good, and it's such a refreshingly fresh entree. Enjoy.

Thai Wraps
Time: 1 1/2 hours Serves: 6-8
Cook's Notes: If using only chicken or only tofu, decrease curry, cumin, sugar, soy, and vegetable oil by half in the marinade ingredients section.
For a gluten-free and/or soy-free option, this meal is great. Serve as a Chicken Satay plate over brown rice, nix the spinach tortilla. Make sure to use gluten-free ingredients including peanut butter and soy sauce. Also knowing a friend of mine who is gluten-free and soy-free, we concoct a delicious soy substitute easily found on the internet, and use corn oil only, as vegetable oil is usually primarily made of soy.
Partly adapted from Pasta, with contributing editor Jeni Wright. Inspired by Mermaid Cafe, Kauai, HI.
Vegetarian Option | Gluten-Free Option
12+ Bamboo Skewers
4 chicken breasts, cubed into 1"x2" pieces
1 package tofu, extra firm, drained
3 garlic cloves, minced, divided
3 tbsp curry powder, divided
2 tsp cumin, divided
2 tsp sugar, divided
4 tbsp soy sauce (or soy substitute), divided
6 tbsp vegetable oil, divided

Satay Sauce:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp curry powder
1, 8 oz can coconut milk, full fat
2 tbsp soy sauce (or soy substitute)
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice, or juice of 1/2 lemon
5 1/2 ounces peanut butter

6-8 Spinach/Flour Tortillas, warmed
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
6 Romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed
3 carrots, thinly sliced with peeler
1 cucumber, thinly sliced

How To:
1) Prep: Soak the bamboo skewers in water for an hour, or until ready to use. This helps to prevent them from burning during cooking. Slice the tofu laterally and place both squares on a plate with two paper towels. Cover with another paper towel, and wrap edges around the tofu until well covered. Place another plate over the tofu with extra weight, to help the paper towels absorb as much liquid as possible. Let rest for about 30 minutes. Slice each square into three's, so that you have 6 total, long cubes, sturdy enough to be grilled.

2) In two glass bowls divide ingredients between each, minced garlic, curry, cumin, sugar, soy, and vegetable oil. In one bowl place chicken, in the other, place the tofu. Coat each well, cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for 45 minutes minimum, up to 2 hours.

3) Make the Satay Sauce: In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, heat oil. Add garlic, onion, chili powder, and curry powder. Stir until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add coconut milk, soy sauce, sugar, lemon juice, and peanut butter. Stir until mixed, and let sauce simmer for 1/2 hour, continuing to stir occasionally so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

4) Preheat grill. Skewer chicken pieces on to bamboo skewers. Place on grill over medium heat. Cook on one side for 4 minutes. Skewer tofu pieces, add to grill on the top grate. Turn chicken using tongs, with the help of a metal spatula if needed. Cook for another 5 minutes. Turn tofu carefully using a spatula. Check chicken and turn if needed, continue cooking for another 4 minutes, or until chicken is well cooked and tofu is nicely browned.

5) Serve skewers with wrap ingredients by rolling all ingredients inside of the spinach wrap like a burrito.

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